During the recent #WiredWomen’s conference, one of the major discussions that occurred on and off-line revolved around the use of social media platforms (mainly twitter) to develop and enhance a brand, personal or as an organisation. Delegates wanted clear and specific guide lines on best practise and so, instead of just talking about being ‘good’ at twitter, I decided to measure who was getting Twitter right during the conference by monitoring the hash tag. I did this by using a variety of tools (including tweetreach and NodeXL) and in so doing was able to establish exactly which tweets and tweeps were successful. This then allowed me, to identify common characteristics of success.
Before we get to those though, it is important to clarify exactly what is meant by being good or successful at Twitter. Twitter is about people, connections, networks between these connections and influence within networks and among connections. Why should you care about this? Personally or professionally, it is a quick and easy way to connect with like-mind people all over the world. This has, and does, turn into business, travel and growth opportunities if managed correctly – I wouldn’t have been a panellist at this conference if it hadn’t been for Twitter! With only 140 characters you can reach hundreds, even thousands, of people in seconds at the same time, and if you’re connected enough there is no quicker way (electronically or otherwise) to disseminate information. Twitter is THE crowdsourcing tool and anything from IT problems to a need for directions to a specific location can be found almost immediately through your connection’s varied locations, knowledge and interest areas. There is also no quicker way to stay up to date with news and events from around the world, often information is released on Twitter even before the press picks it up. Beyond this, live tweeting can allow you access to conferences and the like that you never would even have known about before. This is of particular value because access to early industry news disseminated intelligently will enhance your position within your industry. I could go on and on but these are the main reasons I believe it’s worth spending a little time on understanding how to ensure you maximise the benefits received from Twitter, which was after all the point of this exercise!
The most evident characteristic of successful #wiredwomen tweeps was engagement. Those at the centre of the #wiredwomen twitter network not only engaged with others the most at the actual conference, but also had engaged so broadly in their general pre-conference twitter activity that they had already come into contact with many network members long before the network was even formed. This also meant that they were automatically the most influential in the network, as they had already built trust, rapport and established their position as experts. This sounds simple, obvious even, but is definitely a case of easier said than done! The key was a combination of the clear demonstration of expertise, including (very importantly) the offering of this freely, with being human! By that I mean: joining the conversation rather than preaching from a pedestal, not talking exclusively about one subject (even if you are a business) while simultaneously maintaining a consistent persona, responding to others calls for help, asking for help, sharing success and exciting news, admitting to failure or a gap in knowledge and in general sharing more of yourself. If you want someone specific to join a conversation or see specific information mention them directly – that’s how conversations get started.
To ensure you are part of relevant conversations you need to use hash tags, as they enable you to join or even start conversations. Hash tags are the easiest and most commonly used way to find conversations that you’re interested in and ensure that your voice is heard in this conversation. You may have much to contribute, but not making use of the relevant hash tag is like putting yourself on mute. It also limits your potential to connect to only those currently in your network, as opposed to the entire twitter network. There were some very informative and important tweets that went unnoticed at the #wiredwomen conference because the authors didn’t use the hash tag and as such excluded themselves from delegate’s radars. This may – again – sound like rather obvious advice, but I think you’d be surprised at the number of tweets directly related to the conference but not containing the hash tag, and there must have been many more I have missed since they are by their very nature disconnected and so difficult to find.
Whether you’re using a hashtag or not, the more you tweet the more likely you are to be heard. There is however a very fine line between creating a high profile account and alienating respondents who will get bored with too many tweets. Those that tweeted the most at #wiredwomen were among the most connected in the network, but were not the most retweeted or mentioned. Those that were among the most retweeted and mentioned did tweet more than average but, more importantly, seemed to have found the balance between frequency, relevant content and timing. For example, successful #wiredwomen tweeps allowed others time to respond in between tweets or before sharing the next bit of the story/information. Not only does this engage those involved more, but, also, by lengthening the time over which the conversation occurs, increases the likelihood that other connections will be exposed to it. There is no magic number of how often you should tweet – it depends completely on the subject involved, relevancy of issue etc. but good advice is to use the same filter you do in normal conversation and life where you wouldn’t dominate completely but rather listen too.
When analysing the content of specific successful #wiredwomentweets it was immediately noticeable that:
- Tweets that pointed to links, videos, infographics, pictures, etc. enhanced tweeps experience and as such engaged them more and for a longer period of time. Not surprisingly, funny tweets had the same effect.
- Tweets containing simply a headline and link were much less mentioned, commented on or retweeted than those that also included insightful comments or thoughtful responses.
- Tweets that were 120 characters or less were retweeted and commented on much more than longer ones, simply because space was left to do so! Tweeps love sharing breaking news, interesting and useful information – it only increases their profile -and are much more likely to do so if they can add their own two cents too.
- Tweets specifically mentioning tweeps by username where more often responded to than those not, as people are much more likely to respond when they feel like the message is directed specifically at them.
- Statements that were backed up with a source were mentioned and retweeted at a significantly higher rate than those that appeared to be opinion only.
Since the #wiredwomen were such an incredibly connected group (as was evident when the hash tag trended nationally in South Africa) it would be safe to say that these tips for successful tweets are not only relevant for users within this network but much more broadly too. As such, following this advice will ensure your twitter account yields all the benefits discussed and more!
Any #wiredwomen wanting specific information on their personal twitter performance during the conference (retweet rates, number of mentions etc.) are welcome to contact me on twitter (@TraceAdjoa) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org)